Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Maybe you haven't, but when the hungries happen and you're scrounging for something, necessity becomes the mother of invention. Of course these days re-purposing and finding new uses for things generally gets the term "hacked" in front of it, so why not food? Amazing Food Hacks is, perhaps, the ultimate afternoon snack-hacker's bible, complete with ideas that range from the mild (hash browns in a waffle iron) to the wacky (leftover pizza crust nachos) to the sophisticated (frozen yogurt dots). Peggy Wang, a founding editor of the website Buzzfeed and a non-foodie mom with kids to keep happy, packs a lot of interesting and (mostly) healthy ideas for breakfasts, main courses, snacks and sides that would make any kid rethink that plain old package of ramen taunting them from the pantry.
The first thing you'll note about this book is that it's like an oversized child's board book, with thick, glossy coated pages. No need to worry about spilling food on it in the kitchen, it wipes (or, let's be honest, licks) clean. It's one of the few cookbooks I've seen designed to be abused in the kitchen.
Each page contains one or two "hacks" -- sometimes full recipes, sometimes hints or suggestions -- that will either instantly make sense or make your taste buds squinch in fear. One page, for example, suggests a thin layer of mayo can make a grilled cheese epic, which I agree with; above it on the same page is the suggestion of adding a spoonful of peanut butter to ramen broth, which leaves me a bit skeptical. For you it might be the opposite. But even the most outrageous of combinations didn't completely turn me off.
And there are truly useful kitchen hints included, like freezing tofu to give it better texture when cooking, or asking the guys delivering your pizza NOT to cut it into slices because that's how the crust gets soggy. These are scattered among recipes for things like "Better Than Crack Crackers" and "Calzone Tacos" and "Microwave Pasta Carbonara in a Mug."
Chances are good a teen guy doesn't need a book like to tell him how to put together taco salad ingredients inside a bag of Fritos and eat them with a fork, but it could also seriously up his culinary game. And, yeah, much of this can be found online, but sometimes all a cook wants to do is grab a book, open to a page and go "Huh, I think I have all those ingredients..." Kitchens are just natural for this kind of hacking.
Amazing Food Hacks
by Peggy Wang
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